​South Australian Budget earmarks millions for innovation and startups

The South Australian government has released its 2018-19 state Budget, allocating millions of dollars for technology-related initiatives, with a particular focus on startups and innovation.

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AU$27.9 million over four years has been earmarked to encourage local businesses to collaborate with researchers and universities to solve industrial problems, commercialise new products and services, attract research infrastructure investment into the state, and encourage the establishment and growth of startups.

A chief entrepreneur has also been appointed as part of the Research, Commercialisation and Start-Up fund to “promote entrepreneurship, engage with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, build a startup community, and raise the profile of South Australia as the place to start and grow a successful business”.

The Economic and Business Growth fund will have AU$100m over four years to support industry and business growth in the state, with initiatives under the fund expected to introduce new technologies, capabilities, capacities, and expertise to South Australia.

A new industry assistance framework has also been established to support economic growth. The Budget papers explain that financial assistance will be provided to private sector entities through three new funds, focused on opportunities that “provide strategic development benefit to the state”.

Focusing still on startups and small businesses, those with payrolls below AU$1.5 million will be exempt from payroll tax from January 1, 2019, while businesses with annual taxable wages between AU$1.5 million and AU$1.7 million will pay less payroll tax.

The Budget papers explain that approximately 3,200 businesses will become exempt from payroll tax, with around 400 businesses expected to receive a reduction in payroll tax liabilities.

AU$9.3 million will also be spent over four years on the establishment of new overseas trade offices in the United States, Japan, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates, to increase the state’s international trade and to support exporters. An additional AU$3.5 million over four years will be invested into a new stand-alone business investment office in Shanghai.

With AU$43.9 million, the state’s Innovation and Commercialisation Precinct, comprising seven buildings, will be re-fitted and re-purposed over two years.

Rental subsidies of AU$4.8 million over the forward estimates have also been provided for 650 startup spaces in the precinct. The Innovation and Commercialisation Precinct will also make available up to 23,000 square metres of space for other entrepreneurial activities.

Bouncing off the federal government’s new visa system, AU$400,000 over four years has been set aside to implement a pilot program to trial a new visa category for startup entrepreneurs seeking to base their operations in South Australia.

The state expects the new Alert SA app will deliver reliable public safety emergency information.

Emergency services will also receive AU$4.2 million to upgrade the SA Computer Aided Dispatch system, which dispatches emergency responses to triple zero calls.

With Australian states and territories vying for the boasting rights to host the Australian Space Agency, SA has allocated AU$1 million over four years to establish an Australian Space Innovation Precinct as a “perfect location to house the Australian Space Agency”.

AU$200,000 will be spent in 2018-19 and AU$356,000 per annum from next year on the facility at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site, Lot Fourteen.

It will also be supported by an advocacy campaign to persuade the Commonwealth to choose South Australia as the location.

The state said it will also house other key space sector organisations, subject to the federal government deciding to locate the Australian Space Agency in South Australia.